The visual world is about to take a bold turn toward “maximalism and saturated hues,” according to Shutterstock‘s 2020 Color Report.
Contrasting with the bright neon tones of the stock image provider’s last two reports, 2020’s color palette will feature three deeper hues: lush lava, aqua menthe and phantom blue.
“It’s a huge difference, and I’m personally relieved—I think these colors are really beautiful,” said Mike McCabe, Shutterstock’s vp of creative. “Last year’s were really in your face.”
The forecast is based on the photos and videos that Shutterstock’s 1.9 million customers download and search for. Shutterstock aggregates that visual input, pixel by pixel, to find which colors have had the greatest growth in popularity.
And because designers, marketers and creatives download content for projects months before they are revealed to the public, the predictions in Shutterstock’s report often end up being pretty accurate, McCabe said.
“The customers are really deciding what the trends are,” he said. “This year, luckily, we got these three gorgeous colors. As designers, we’re psyched. We’re not wincing when we have to talk about them.”
Lush lava—a deep, striking blood orange—can only be used for a “front and center, attention-grabbing piece,” McCabe said. It contrasts well against any background and conveys “excitement and confidence and energy.”
Aqua menthe is a cyan mint green that’s a little washed out, and a little retro. The Shutterstock team is calling it “playful, modern and outgoing”—the color of a pool party in Miami Beach in the ’80s.
And lastly, phantom blue is a rich indigo blue with a little purple in it and “kind of glows,” McCabe said. “It’s really really elegant overall, really works beautifully with the other two.” The team describes the color as conveying “stability, trust and sophistication.”
In addition to the global color trends, Shutterstock analyzes regional download data to see which colors were most popular in 24 different countries around the world. But whether those colors give any insight into national trends, Shutterstock leaves that up to consumers. “We don’t want to read too much into them; we just want to present them and let people come up with their own conclusions,” McCabe said.
Shutterstock takes a similar approach to the global color trends. “We haven’t attributed a lot of meaning to them yet, we think that in retrospect it’ll be something self-evident,” McCabe said.